Sprouted Grain: Benefits, Preparation and Recipes

Sprouted grain – rich in food enzymes and natural vitamins – grows closer and closer to the mainstream as people across all walks of life search for a better way to incorporate wholesome foods into their diet on a regular basis.   While sprouting grain requires extra attention and, like many aspects of traditional foods, additional forethought and planning, the practice is worth the time and is easy to accomplish in your own kitchen, once you get the hang of it.

Sprouted Grain: Benefits

Sprouted grain differs from whole grain in three fundamental aspects: 1) sprouting activates food enzymes; 2) sprouting increases vitamin content, and 3) sprouting neutralizes antinutrients like phytic acid which bind up minerals preventing your ability to fully absorb them.  When examining the nutrient density of sprouted wheat to unsprouted wheat on a calorie-per-calorie basis, you’ll find that sprouted wheat contains four times the amount of niacin and nearly twice the amount of vitamin B6 and folate as unsprouted wheat; moreover, it contains more protein and fewer starches than non-sprouted grain and as a further boon, it is lower on the glycemic index making it more suitable for those suffering from blood sugar issues.

Furthermore, sprouted grain and sprouted flours – having been effectively “pre-soaked” do not need to undergo further soaking or souring and are therefore suitable for quick breads, cookies and cakes in a way that sourdoughs and soaked flours are not.  (Learn more about soaking grains, beans and legumes.) For those who do not wish to take the time or effort to sprout grain or mill flour at home, you can always purchase sprouted grain flour online (see sources).

Sprouted Grain: Preparation

While it may take a few days to sprout grain, it’s not as labor-intensive of a process as it might seem.   All grains and seeds can be sprouted following these basic instructions though the germination time may vary from grain to grain.  Take care to choose only organic, untreated grains as they tend to sprout more evenly and reliably.   In our kitchen, we sprout several cups of seeds at a time; however, you can sprout smaller amounts depending on your needs and how you will be using the grain.

How to Sprout Grain

  1. Start with clean grain, so take care in sorting through it to make sure all pebbles and grains with poor appearance are adequately removed.
  2. Rinse grains thoroughly.
  3. Add grain to a ceramic or stainless steel crock, pouring filtered water over the grain until the grain is completely submersed under several inches of water.
  4. Soak the grains overnight in warm water.
  5. In the morning, pour the grains into a fine mesh sieve and rinse them well.
  6. Throughout the day, rinse the grains multiple times taking care to stir them so all grains are rinsed evenly.
  7. Continue rinsing the grains for two to three days until the grains have sprouted to your liking.
  8. Rinse the grains one last time, drain them and either refrigerate them or dehydrate them to grind into flour.

How to Make Sprouted Flour

  1. Start with grain that has been sprouted for only a day or two – until the sprout barely emerges from the end of the kernel.  The longer it sprouts, the more difficult it is to grind and use in baking.
  2. Pour the grain into a thin layer on a mesh screen for your dehydrator and dehydrate at about 105 ° – 110 ° F until thoroughly dry.   Alternatively, spread it on a baking sheet and set it in an oven set to the lowest setting you can manage.   Note that sprouted grain dried in an oven has inferior baking qualities as compared to  that which is dried through the more reliably low temperatures of a dehydrator.
  3. Once the grain is thoroughly dry, simply add it to the hopper of your grain mill and grind as you normally would.

Sprouted Grain: Uses

We don’t eat much grain in our home, but the grain we do eat is mostly sprouted and we only use sprouted flour either prepared according to the directions above or purchased from a reliable source.  Sprouted grain can be eaten in its raw form, cooked or ground into flour and baked as previously mentioned.   Take care to note, however, that cooking damages the grain’s micronutrient profile as many of its vitamins are fragile and not heat stable; however, sprouted flour still packs a more comprehensive nutritional punch than regular wholemeal flour and is significantly easier to digest.

Sprouted grains and sprouted seeds can be delicious when eaten raw and otherwise unprocessed.   Try serving it raw as a salad and gently seasoned with salt, pepper, unrefined olive oil (see sources) and a squeeze of lemon.   It’s also tasty mixed in with other vegetables in salads or served on sandwiches.

You can also eat sprouted grain cooked or baked in addition to raw.   While cooking i lacks live food enzymes, it is still easier to digest than unsprouted grain and many of grains inherent antinutrients like phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that our largely neutralized by the soaking and sprouting process.   Sprouted flour can be used in a 1:1 ratio for white flour or whole grain flour.   Sprouted grain is also well-suited to porridges and warm breakfast cereals.

Recipes

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What people are saying

  1. says

    Hey ,
    Excellent post on sprouted Grains .. A dish very popular in India , but unluckily not that much liked here in North America .
    I just need to add one caution to this whole article is .. please beware when eating sprouted grains . Its because they tend to create lot of bloating and gassy stomach if we have week digestive system .
    In a way we say if you have a crazy appetite .. yes then this dish is for you , but if you are having some issues with being not that hungry , please try not to eat it , even if it is healthy for you .
    Regards
    Sudeep

  2. says

    This is a very informative post. Great work! :) I haven’t gotten far enough into Traditional Food-land to sprout grains or use sprouted grains, but I believe you that it is much more nutritious. This winter I think I am going to learn to sprout seeds for salad greens. I don’t even want to think about salad right now though ;) Too much garden and CSA lettuce! :)

    • D. says

      You can sprout other things besides grain, too, although most are just salad toppings, you can’t make bread and stuff like that! I sprout Fenugreek seeds often, because they have a lovely, sorta licorice-y flavor and Fenugreek is good for you in lots of other ways, too. I also sprout lentils, although I like the orange/red lentils the best for this. The yellow ones tend to sprout slowly, and the green ones (like split-peas) are slower yet. There’s broccoli, radish, and lots of other things to sprout, too. Very tasty though and a simple process, you just have to remember to rinse them several times daily. You don’t have to spend money on expensive sprouting equipment either, just a lipped plate and a linen or flax bag to lay on the plate. Some people even use paper towels, but I find that takes away from the taste because I can taste the paper towel. Just smell a wet paper towel sometime — pheww. Some of them actually smell / stink like “recycled” paper. Foohy.

      There is a site called sproutpeople.com or something like that with bunches of information. Most of what they sell for outrageous prices, you can buy at a local health food store, in whatever quantity you wish instead of getting a big 8 oz package of seeds you may never use. Check them out for instructions on how, and which seeds to use, etc., though. Good site for that!

      D.

  3. says

    Great post.
    We’ve not gotten into sprouting our own grain yet, but it’s on our list of things to get into doing regularly. We’ll definitely need a grain mill, at some point, so that I can make my own flour.

    Do you have a recommendation for favorite sprouted grains? Are some grains more appealing than others when sprouted?

  4. says

    Hi Jenny! I tried the link to The Natural Health Advocates but it is not working. I would love to sprout my own grains, but have trouble even finding whole grains besides buckwheat to sprout, and am interested in having sprouted flours to bake bread. Any online resources for getting the whole grains?

  5. says

    This is great. I sprout all of my grains EXCEPT the ones I mill. I am too scared to ruin my grains mill! I will have to get a food dehydrator. I make grain salads mostly…or grains and eggs. Super yum.

  6. Jenny says

    Lo –
    My favorite sprouting grain is spelt. I LOVE its flavor and it makes delicious breads and pastries. Sprouted short grain brown rice makes a great sushi rice and I’m told that sprouted wheat is great in a tomato-cucumber salad.

  7. jean says

    Some comments on sprouting grain for breads. It’s not as random as portrayed in this article. To get a nice springy loaf where the sprouted grain(wheat in this case) behaves like a bread flour you must only sprout it to the point where you just barely se the sprout emerging. Usually only a day maybe even less depending on the grain. Otherwise it forms diastatic enzymes and makes a very wet heavy loaf that takes a long time to bake. If you sprout too much you can grind all the grains and bake at a lower temperature to make a loaf more like Essene or Manna brand breads. If the wheat is sprouted just a little the bread can turn out more like the commercially available Ezeikel bread. One of the best sources for baking bread with whole grains and sprouted grains(a small section) is the old Laurels’ Kitchen Bread Book, not to be confused with the Laurels’ Kitchen book.

  8. Erin says

    How long is the grain good for after you have sprouted and dehydrated it? Can I do a large batch and keep it on the shelf or do I need to do it on a recipe by recipe basis?

  9. Jenny says

    Charlie -

    You asked recently about sprouted grain.  I think there are a lot of similarities between what the LA Times Article wrote, and what I wrote at Nourished Kitchen: sprouted grains are more nutrient dense; they free up more minerals and improve the overall macronutrient content.  The nutritionist they interviewed, however, seems to to have a different take than I do; namely, that these improvements in overall nutrient density aren’t valuable, whereas I believe in maximizing nutrient density at every turn without compromising flavor.  Moreover, the LA Times is absolutely right to target most commercial sprouted flour products: many of them are less wholesome than what you can prepare in a home kitchen, and their quite expensive.  I wouldn’t eat them either, but, man, do I love my homemade sprouted grain bread and pie crusts!

    - Jenny

  10. Handful says

    I am wondering if I need to do anything to my wheat from my field before sprouting. I gave it a good wash, soaked and skimmed off the chaff best I could.

    I am excited about trying some flour as I just discovered and old industrial sized coffee grinder in the garage. Pretty cool!

  11. Annie says

    I really appreciate your information on this sight regarding sprouted bread. I have been experimenting with sprouting my own. The sprouting part is no problem but I have over dried several pounds, under dried another. My dad’s a farmer and says grain should be at 13% moisture. He tested my grain and I had some at 9% all the way up to 14.5. What is the recommended moisture for sprouted wheat? I thought I had heard it was a drier flour but my “drier” flour turned out some pretty bad tasting bread. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks in advance.

  12. Ashley says

    I just wanted to repeat the question Erin asked a while ago b/c I couldn’t find an answer for it:

    How long is the grain good for after you have sprouted and dehydrated it? Can I do a large batch and keep it on the shelf or do I need to do it on a recipe by recipe basis?

    Thanks!
    Ashley

  13. Sarah Ikegami says

    Hi Jenny,
    I am new to your website and I love it! Thanks for all the hard work you put into educating so many people. What do you think of commercial brands such as Ezekiel and Food for Life sprouted cereals and breads? I haven’t sprouted any of my own grains yet (soaked oats last night and loved them this morning!) and am currently using sprouted grains from my health food store.
    Thanks!

  14. Anja says

    hello!

    i’ve been making “no knead” bread for almost 2 years and wonder if the process similarly maximizes the nutrition of the sprouted grains. i grind my own flours fresh as i use them, usually a mix of red wheat, white wheat and spelt. i also often use rye, quinoa, buckwheat, barley – whatever i’m in the mood for and have on hand. after mixing the bread, it is left to rise for a minimum of 12 hours, not longer than 20 hours, depending on the temperature of my kitchen. i’ve read in various sources that this longer fermentation of the whole grain – more than 8 hours – is enough to break down the phytates for nutrition absorption without calcium depletion. what’s your take on this? the bread is by far the best i’ve ever had – the long rise develops a flavor that is out of this world good. tia! and blessings! anja

    • says

      If your grains have been freshly ground, a soaking/rising period of two hours is sufficient to breakdown more than three-quarters of the phytates, so those no-knead, long-rise breads are an excellent solution to the phytate in whole grain, particularly if you’re using freshly ground flour. Nothing is quite as efficient as real sourdough, particularly made from sprouted flour, but that no-knead bread is a great alternative and really effective (plus it’s EASY!)

      • Anja says

        thanks so much for your reply! you and your site are a blessing. and i’m going to keep making my no-knead bread from freshly ground flour. it’s the only bread the 16 month old daughter of a friend of mine will eat. =)
        i often make a sourdough using this technique, and boy is my sourdough tangy! quite lively… i’ve expanded my repertoire to include a number of both yeasted and sourdough loaves, including wheat, walnut/honey, black bean chipotle, rye, pumpernickel, etc. and i am so grateful to have learned this technique. blessings! anja

  15. Mrs. M. says

    I purchased Sprouted Flour from a reputable company. I wanted to mix it with unbleached white flour to make pancakes. DON’T MAKE PANCAKES WITH SPROUTED FLOUR Placing 1/2 cup of Sprouted flour to the pancake mix will activate your Cholesterol. If you have Cholesterol Problems digesting the Sprouted Wheat in a pancake mix will be impossible, and taking double the normal dose of laxatives will have no effect (65 mg of sennosides) Tried making pancakes twice, unable to digest Sprouted wheat each time and no laxative had any affect after consuming Sprouted Wheat. I will have to used the internet to find out how you treat this wheat before using it in baking and then bake bread. Ten years ago, I tried sprouting vegetables and fruit for a large population and gave it up. We then planted normal fruit and vegetables in massive bins and raised the plants in Green Houses using roof sunlight. I remember there was a difference in the fruit and vegetables that wete Sprouted and I had to resort to normal planting. Wish me Luck

  16. Rachel says

    I don’t have a dehydrator and the lowest temp my oven will go is 170 degrees. This may be a stupid question, but I live in the desert where the temps are over 100 degrees for several hours in the day during the summer….. could I just leave the grain outside in the heat until dehydrated? Thanks.

    • Joto says

      @Rachel, I bet that would work. I was in El Salvador once for a visit,, and people had rigged up homemade food dehydrators using old window frames and screens, and left it out in the direct sunlight. It worked well for them. You may just need to experiment. Just be careful if you grind your grain, because if it’s wet, it will ruin your mill.

      I’d also be interested in an answer to the question asked by Ashley and Erin about how long sprouted grain will keep. I would like to start doing this so I can grind it into flour. One reason I love my grain mill is that I can buy wheat berries and keep them indefinitely. When I grind them, I store the extra flour in the freezer until I use it (always within one month). I never waste flour this way.

      Thanks!

  17. says

    Hey there. I sprout my wheat and then I boil it so that I can use it in the blender to mix with eggs and milk. Then I bake as bread or cake. I guess I lose some nutrients this way. But I can’t grind the wheat and don’t have a dehydrator. Even the way I do it, takes a long while to grind up the berries.

  18. Amy says

    You wrote that sprouted flour is, “lower on the glycemic index”. What is the rating? I am trying to find it on the internet but cannot seem to find it documented anywhere.

  19. Sheila says

    I have tried sourdough bread many times over the years bu it ends up verty dense, I have made own starter and kept it replenished many times too Can someone help with a good recipe?

    • Jodie says

      Hi Sheila,

      I have a “no-knead” recipe using my sourdough starter that I make almost daily. It’s super easy and every combination of flours I’ve used have worked! I also use only whole grains :)

      300 g flour; it can be 150 g each of whole wheat and spelt, whole wheat and kamut, whole wheat and buckwheat. . . you get the idea. I’ve also done 200 g of one flour (kamut, spelt, einkorn, emmer, etc) and only 100 g of whole wheat. I haven’t had an unsuccessful loaf yet.

      280 g room temperature water

      1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I often omit this and haven’t noticed a difference)

      150 g active sourdough starter; my starter is always 1/3 whole wheat flour, 1/3 rye flour and 1/3 water. I have no idea if a starter of different proportions would work or fail. I’m fairly new to sourdough starters and haven’t learned about hydration and all that.

      Measure flours and salt into a large bowl and mix. Measure water on top of the flours and then the starter. Mix all very well. Scrape into an oiled and floured glass bread pan (9″ x 5″). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise on counter until it’s pretty near the top edge of the pan. It can also be placed in the fridge for up to 2 days and then brought out to rise on the counter the day you’d like fresh baked bread. Keep in mind the rising time can be anywhere from 4-10 hours. I find it depends on how warm my kitchen is. Out of the fridge will obviously take longer as it’s cold.

      Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool in pan approx. 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. This bread is fantastic when fresh but best as toast anytime after the first day. In my opinion anyway :)

      Good luck if you give it a try! Of course, this is not a soft and fluffy bread but it’s a fermented food (which is awesome), it’s 100% whole grain (again awesome) and it’s home made! You can’t beat home made :)

      • Norma says

        Try making a sponge [ all the liquid and starter and enough flour to make a very thick dough, let sit to rise to double or triple, I leave it over night], then remove starter for future use and make your bread with the balance. This increases the culture and speeds up the rise, in warm temperature it will rise very quickly. This process the searches and gluten reducing the G>I> to 64% from 100%

  20. Richard Pinnegar says

    Hi,
    I am living in Spain between valencia and Alicante a place called Oliva.
    Can you suggest a place where to buy these grains/seeds.
    I am going back to England on the 5th August,can you suggest a place to buy
    the same,this maybe a better bet.
    Many thanks,
    Richard

  21. barb says

    Is it healthier to eat non-dehydrated sprouted grains than dehydrated, or does it matter?

    What other grains besides buckwheat can I sprout?

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